What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Menoturals; Saturday Sounds

Continuing with the small bird entries in this wee series, the Goldfinch demands its place! This pretty wee bird is spotted flying around and resting in the Beech trees outside my window every day, often in quite large flocks. They never fail to attract the eye. My lens has yet to capture a properly clear image of them, though; they are jittery and flittery, so one has to work fast!

MenU - A Foodie Post!

If you read yesterday's post, you know what's coming. If you didn't... why not?

Anyhoo... I am focusing on the Tower T17021 4.3L air fryer. I said 4.2L yesterday. Menosoup. But what's 100mls between baskets?

Some of you will already be familiar with this trendy bit of kitchenalia. However, I know a lot of folks who don't have one, so the thumbnail sketch follows.

Despite the name, these are actually more like countertop ovens. Think of them like that, and you will get a lot more creative! There is a heat plate beneath the basket and a standard spiral element at the top of the cooking area. The heat is circulated by a fan. If one fills the basket as indicated in this image borrowed from their blurb, it is important to keep turning the food - that heating element at the top is less than an inch above it! There is a little space beyond the element, which permits the circulation required for effective cooking. So I estimate the bit where the curve takes a sharp turn inward (to the top knob) holds the electrics, and there is a vent out the back. The sides get quite warm when in use, but one can hold one's hands to it without risk of burning. This model does temps from 80'C up to 200'C (170'F to 390'F). There is an inner, removable basket which sits about five millimetres above the main bucket base, again to facilitate circulation. It draws 1500w when heating, but the beauty of these units is that they heat to temp within two minutes, and when at heat, switch the element off, thus using minimal wattage (two testers I watched used these with lithium power banks and when in the rest mode, theirs drew only about 50w or less). Thus, these mini-ovens are quicker than a standard stove oven and significantly more efficient if you are seeking to save on power bills!

So, a primary reason to have one is the cost-effectiveness in the kitchen. Beyond that, though, what about the cooking? Well, it has to be acknowledged that these things took off in the market due to being targeted for all the fast food fiends out there. Yes, I have tested out the frozen chips, battered fish (Mac1 is a "fush'n'chups" hound!), and my vege sausages. From frozen to done with the first two was twenty minutes, and the snags were about 12 minutes. An argument for the latter might be, why not just fry them on the hob? One cannot defrost in the skillet, so one must first do that. This requires much forward planning and bringing them out of the freezer in the morning to keep in the fridge till lunch or dinner. Hours, not minutes. ORRRRRR, one can do a fast defrost in the microwave and then fry them off. The defrost function for two sausages of about 100 grams weight takes about eight or nine minutes, followed by five minutes of frying. You'll be starting to see where the A/f has an advantage. Similarly - wait for it - boiled eggs. 

Yes, you read that correctly. I kid you not. (I forgot to photograph the brekky I did for Mac1, so thank you, Google Images, for this one on the right.) If you search it, you will see all sorts of variations on timings. The truth is it will 
a) depend on how many eggs you are doing at once
b) what weight the eggs are
c) the wattage of your A/f
d) the temp you choose to cook at 

... in other words, like everything else, it's try it and see. I did two eggs weighing about 55 grams each at 150'C for seven minutes. They were perfect for dipping toast. Eight to nine minutes would have produced the 'jammish' texture seen in this photo, and I estimate about 10 minutes for true hard-boiled. It is much the same as when done in a pan of boiling water, with the advantage of not having to bring that water to the boil in the first place. Plus, in these environmentally-conscious times, the water used for boiling just goes down the drain. Tsk, tsk. For those of us in vans with a limited water supply, the A/f method makes a lot of sense. Oh, and while we're at it, one can do one's toast simultaneously... oh yes. Did you note the little set of extras I purchased to use with the Tower? Among the wire items is a toast rack! I halved four slices of whole wheat bread, placed them evenly into the rack, and popped them into the basket at the five-minute-to-go mark beside the eggs. Perfection and no extra power used by the 2400w toaster I have.

Did you note the little black silicon cupcake pan among the extras? For lunch one day, I whipped up some avocado souffles in that. Say what?! Yup. I didn't have any recipe. I just stood there with the avo in hand, wondering what I could do that was hot (for the cold, damp day). Hmmmmm... I mashed it and added two egg yolks, some seasoning and herbs, half a cup of sour milk, two tablespoons of self-raising flour and a little melted butter. I whisked that together. Whisked the egg white in a separate bowl with a little baking soda and then folded that through the main mix. Into the moulds and ten minutes in the preheated A/f at 170'F. They were not quite set enough, so I tipped them out onto a heat-proof dish and gave them another two minutes bottom up. ... OMG. The sis and I demolished them in five minus four minutes. I'll be making those again! Mac1 reckoned she'd pay £8 or £9 at a bistro for a plateful like we had that day (did some snow peas and tomato lightly in the micro for the side).

I have roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts and carrots and parsnips. Then, the baked potatoes were scrumoolushus - did the five-minute run in the micro, then light oiling onto the skewers and "bbq" tray and into the basket at 180'C for ten minutes. It could do longer for a really crispy skin, but that worked grand.

Shall I mention the scones? Oh yes, I have to talk about the scones. Cheese one day, fruit another. I love that I can just whip up a four-scone batch for myself and know that I can bake them in the Tower in about 12 minutes, and that's me sorted. I'm making scones again after Lord knows how many years!

Bread and butter pudding. Mm-mmm, and not bog standard either. Made with wholemeal bread, spread with sweet mincemeat and sprinkled with Demarara sugar. Will be doing that again as my alternative to Christmas pud!

Pastries. Savoury and sweet. Plums that just refused to ripen for straight eating got macerated with some pears and baked in a pastry shell... that worked! Did some ruff-puff cheese sticks to go with the soup. Made a mini cheese and celery quiche, just a little shortcrust. At the back of the freezer, I found some ready-made puff pastry, "needin' eatin'," as my mother's voice echoed in my inner ear. No worries, mate. Rolled out a quarter, lined the pie tin, blind baked it at 180'C for ten minutes, took the bake beads out, then another two minutes without them before putting in some sauteed capsicum (bell pepper) and celery, a little stilton and cheddar mix and a couple of eggs whisked with a bit of sour milk and seasoning and topped off with the little offcut of pastry.............

Back into the Tower and baked for fifteen minutes, then added three more just to completely firm the custard. Polished that off with a steaming cup of fine Assam tea. 

Have I found a new lease of interest in preparing food for one? You betchya!!!!!!! I can't recommend air fryer cookery highly enough. And I've only had the thing for three weeks. I am dreaming up all sorts of things to experiment with. Not everything will come out to the standard achieved thus far, but I am sure it will all be edible.

And yes, I hope to get a few more Y-i-t-K vids done for the new year now I've found my cookery mojo again. That's enough for now. I'll leave you with the beauty shot of that scrumdiddlyumptious vege pie...